I AM CHRISTOPHER LEACH THE ARTIST. I started this blog so that I can share with everyone my vast collection of transport photographs showing a personal and nostalgic view of the industry with images that span some 45 years taking in the U.K and some of Europe. I have no darkroom and so rather than being the perfectionist after tidying them up I upload the images warts and all, and even those that won't scan squarely or are scratched. In a way it adds age and character. You are all free to download these for your personal use but please remember I still own them and you are not just free to use them without prior permission for any knd of publishing. Click on images to enlarge them and if you want to see more leave your comments or visit my website for the mother-site with galleries including those Buses & Girls: PICTUREWORLD

Monday, 10 March 2008

We had joy we had fun we had seasons in the sun...The Death of old Friends

For hedonistic partying youngsters the Nineties with it's focus on Brit Pop, raves and leisure-drugs like Ecstasy was compared to the Sixties and termed by many as The Second Summer of Love. Well the Sixties was a great time for bus enthusiasts too from the innovative point of view but all that variety and colour seemed to get swept away with one great swish of Barbara Castle's broomstick as the !968 Transport Act imposed a new much more rigid and in my opinion grey and much more ugly regime. But that drabness and lack of imagination all changed when the late Nicholas Ridley, Mrs Thatchers Minister of Transport denationalised and deregulated the buses again in the Eighties leaving market forces to steer the road ahead. So the Nineties too became a great time to be interested in buses and to own a camera as once more everything in the garden flowered. But quickly bigger bus groups formed quickly getting fat buying public assets at silly knockdown prices. Indeed everything was so cheap all they had to do was sell a few unwanted properties like garages and bus stations and they had enough to buy a few new buses and the next bargain company that came along demanding the same treatment. Most of the key players were former managers and all they needed to join this little game of ownership was maybe collectively take out a second mortgage for say £45.000. Some of you might counter my opinions and say good on them for taking that risk. Okay but what sticks in my throat is that one way or another those Municipal, PTE and NBC bus companies belonged to us and now the fat cats have creamed off the profits the public is left with poorer facilities higher fares and paying yet more contributions through subsidies. Fortunately a few of the new or now enlarged companies made a real go of it and became something to be proud of. One of these concerns that pleased both the travelling public and enthusiasts alike was North Birmingham Busways who operated a small beautiful fleet of Leyland Atlanteans but like another supporter of now rare breeds Chase Bus with it's Leyland National Mark1 buses it sold out last year. Of course it is not all coming to an end as a few new operators still come along and make a splash like the expanding Western Greyhound, Norfolk Green and D & G of Stoke but the stranglehold of the big groups will continue to tighten and squeeze out the weaker neighbours who get in their way till the political philosophy changes and I cannot see that happening in the foreseeable future. So if it that smart looking bus still carries on it's sides a proper local or person's name photograph it while you can!

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